This strange parable seems on its surface to be about the morality of money, but deeper examination points to Jesus’ countercultural vision for human relationship and community.
The framing of this story introduces a familiar worldly hierarchy: The rich man has the most power and oversees the manager, who in turn has power over those in debt to the rich man. However, when the manager finds himself suddenly at risk of losing his job, the very people who can help him are those with the least amount of worldly power. And the manager’s selfish actions to help himself—collecting a reduced amount of debt from each debtor—end up helping everyone.
In a vacuum, this story may demonstrate a moral framework of quid pro quo: If you help me, then I’ll help you. But within the larger context of Jesus’ teachings and ministry, it becomes an invitation to connection and interdependence.
How do we survive through times of struggle? How do we endure and respond to the brokenness of the world? We could shore up our defenses, cling tightly to what we have, and worry only about ourselves. But our faith proclaims a different truth and calls for a different response. Jesus teaches us that faithfulness in the face of difficulty and brokenness is about leaning toward relationships, community, and one another, even when it goes against the “way things are done.” Contrary, perhaps, to our instincts, our survival depends on one another. Only together can we move through brokenness into the whole and healed kingdom of God.
God, thank you for all people and for the ways you have connected us to each other. Help us to be in community together and to help one another live faithfully within your reign on earth. Amen.
Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet,” grieves for the plight of his people. They have provoked God’s judgment by following foreign gods, and now there is no comfort to be found. The psalmist cries out to God from a similar situation of despair. Foreign nations have overrun the land, destroyed Jerusalem, and killed many of its people. The psalmist cries out to God for compassion and restoration. The author of First Timothy gives his readers two commands. They should pray for and honor their leaders, and they should be faithful to the one true God, with whom they have a relationship through Christ Jesus. Jesus in Luke tells a strange parable about a dishonest manager who is commended for his shrewd business sense, but Jesus turns his story into a teaching about good stewardship.
Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. When have you called out to God in distress?
Read Psalm 79:1-9. As you search for solutions to life’s problems, how do you demonstrate God’s call to love and to justice?
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. How do you pray for your local, state or province, and national leaders with whom you agree? with whom you disagree?
Read Luke 16:1-13. How do you negotiate the complexities of Jesus’ call to be a good steward of your resources as you work to serve God rather than money?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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